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New partners, new missions

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- The National Radar Cross Section (RCS) Test Facility (NRTF), the premier Department of Defense facility for RCS testing located near Holloman AFB on White Sands Missile Range, N.M., is now part of the 704th Test Group and was aligned under AEDC Dec. 1.

Formerly known as Radar Target Scatter (RATSCAT), which began measuring radar scattering in 1963, it is comprised of two complementary sites, Mainsite and RATSCAT Advanced Measurement System (RAMS).

NRTF specializes in the RCS characterization of full-scale, aerodynamic vehicles and antenna radiation pattern development. Due to its remote, secure environment, it can also accommodate customers requiring specialized testing of developmental electronics systems.
NRTF products directly support weapon system development programs, vulnerability assessment studies, and mission planning efforts throughout the DOD.

Mainsite has a ground plane RCS range with monostatic and bistatic capabilities to support a variety of targets. Both fixed and portable equipment can be set up in a wide variety of configurations for special tests. Mainsite is divided into two main ranges: The North Range, comprised of Pits 3, 5, and 6, and Pit 2 in the West Range. In addition, portable equipment can be set up in a wide variety of configurations for special tests. Test targets at Mainsite can be mounted on polystyrene foam columns of various height on rotating tables. The rotating tables accept a wide variety of targets ranging from small missiles and reentry vehicles to full-size aircraft and ground vehicles weighing up to 60,000 pounds. Measurements at Mainsite can be made at any frequency from 120 MHz to 18 GHz and at frequencies of 34 to 36 GHz and 94 GHz. Both monostatic and bistatic RCS, as well as antenna patterns, can be measured, and special measurements such as near-field, glint and Doppler are available upon request.

Additionally, a tailored data package, full test reports, including analysis and interpretation of data, and special data processing are provided to range users according to their requirements. In addition to these capabilities, Mainsite has the resources to accomplish the design and construction of model targets.

Modeling standards are based on customer requirements, radar scattering principles, and fabrication techniques. Linear model dimensions of ± 0.2 percent are routinely achieved with angle accuracy of 0.05 degrees. Models have been built up to 58 feet in length with extensive detailing to provide items such as inlet and exhaust ducts, rotating turbine and compressor blades and moveable control surfaces. These columns are then attached to the appropriate sized turntable. Cranes, manlifts, forklifts and other heavy equipment are available on site for mounting of large and small targets. Typically, small, lightweight targets can be mounted to an accuracy of ±0.2 degrees in roll and pitch. Large, heavy targets can be mounted with an accuracy of ±0.5 to 1.0 degree in roll and pitch.

RAMS is a self-contained, secure test complex consisting of the Target Support facility, an 8,900-foot paved shadow plane range, the Central Facility and an office complex, situated at the base of the San Andres Mountains 35 miles northwest of the NRTF Mainsite.